What to expect when the Food Hygiene Inspector calls

What happens when the inspector calls?

Now more than ever it is vitally important to have high standards of hygiene and cleanliness, whether you are a quaint tearoom, big wedding venue or a high footfall takeaway.

  • Customers expect high standards of hygiene and before they visit establishments to dine or choose where they will purchase from, they are highly likely to check hygiene ratings.

All businesses must legally register with their local authority before they start to trade, this informs the council who is selling food, their location, where within their enforcement area they are and so they can check that the food being sold is safe and does not cause food poisoning.

All food businesses whether a mobile vehicle by the side of the road, a café, a pub, hotel, a school kitchen or a nursing home selling food will be inspected and those selling directly to the final consumer will receive a rating. These ratings are easy to find and available for all to see on the Food Standards Agency website.  (Like to FSA website)

Christina Ratcliffe, Owner of The Food Safety Company offers a helping hand to restaurants. Here, she shares the 5 steps of what happens when the inspector calls:

1. The knock on the door

The inspector will turn up at your premises unannounced and will introduce themselves and should show you their ID badge. If you are in any doubt of their identity and you want to confirm that this is a legitimate visit, you can call your local council to verify the inspector.

2. The Introduction

The inspector will explain the reason for their visit and what will happen while they are there. They will not only have a look around, but they will also want to look at your records. This will allow them to assess your standards and compliance with food safety legislation to give you a Food Hygiene Rating for your premises.
Your rating will range from urgent improvement required to the all-important VERY GOOD 5.

3. The Process

Before they start the inspector should put on their protective clothing and wash their hands. The inspector will then complete a walk round of your premises which will include all areas not just the kitchen but the waste areas, cellars, storeroom and bars. They will then want to see your paperwork.

During their audit the inspector will be examining the following areas:

a) How you handle your food

This will include examining how you prepare and cook your food, so that there are no risks of contamination. They will also assess how you store your food and ensure that they are used within date and kept at the right temperature.

b) The cleanliness and condition of your facilities and building

They will then do a deep inspection on the cleanliness. They will look to see if everywhere is clean, including behind, beneath and inside equipment. They will also look at the condition of your facilities and building to see if you have an appropriate layout, adequate ventilation, hand washing facilities and pest control to enable good food hygiene standards.

They will want to see what you use to clean and if the chemicals are right for the job.


c) Your Food Safety Management System

It is a legal requirement to have a food safety management system in place, even with a clean and tidy kitchen and good systems in place you will not get a good rating if you don’t have one in place.

A food safety management system means you have controls and check processes to ensure that food sold or served in your establishment is safe to eat and that there is evidence that staff know about food safety and allergens.

This will include your HACCP sheets, training records, cleaning schedules and temperature monitoring forms.

The inspector will want to leave your establishment with confidence that the food that you are selling and serving is safe.

4. Getting the Good News (or not so good!)

After the inspection you will be informed of your rating.

If you have everything in place, then you should attain a level 5.

However, if you are disappointed with your rating, you can request a revisit. This allows you to have the time to go through the report and get the support you need before the revisit. Remember, your rating can be taken from you at any time if you receive a food complaint and the inspector sees that your standards have declined.

5. Receiving your sticker and report

After the inspection you will receive a written report outlining what you are required to do. This will include items that you may be required to do legally and also items to improve good practice.

You will also receive a rating sticker to display at your premises and your score will also be available on the Food Safety Agency website.

Why Having a 5 Rating is Important

There are many studies of how food hygiene affects the success of a business. Here are some findings from an important recent report:

  • 57% of people would eat at an establishment that previously held a poor rating but which had now changed to a good one.
  • 83% of people would not eat at an establishment that had previously held a good rating but which now have a low one
  • 69% of people check the food hygiene ratings of the establishments they use.
  • Attitudes to food hygiene are so strong that even customer loyalty cannot prevail against a poor food hygiene rating.
  • Over three quarters of people (81%) will not visit a restaurant of any sort that had a food hygiene rating of 2 or less.

Source: https://www.nfumutual.co.uk/news-and-stories/food-hygiene-report/

Please Get In Touch

Whether you are an established business or you’re just starting out, The Food Safety Company can help you to achieve a good Food Hygiene Rating to ensure customers keep coming through the door.  Contact us today for a complimentary initial discussion.

The Food Safety Company are here to hold your hand through the process, providing bespoke food safety management systems to suit operations that chefs like and more importantly… which work!  

If you need support, contact The Food Safety Company by email to christina@foodsafetycompany.co.uk or call 07973 122 904.